Packing for a holiday can be exciting as you imagine the wonderful times you’ll be sharing with those soon-to-be-jet-setting outfits, but it can also border on traumatic if you get yourself into a packing pickle.
To help ease your packing pain, I’ve come up with a handy guide of five things not to do when you’re packing for your next adventure.
Pack at the Last Minute
I have a friend who we like to call Batman, who can pack for an international trip, shower and get dressed all in under 40 minutes. I love him and he never leaves anything behind, but this is not what normal people should do.
In the days, weeks, or even months leading up to your trip do your Future Self a favour and make a list.
There are list apps that allow you to add things as you think of them, and then tick them off as they’ve been packed. And you can then save and reuse them for future trips. I have a separate list for my carry on items which I check before every trip.
But it really doesn’t matter if you use your smart phone or a scrap of paper, making a list will not only make packing day so much easier, it will stop those ‘I really must remember to pack my phone charger’ thoughts doing laps in your head.
Remembering everything on your list is one thing, but when it’s time to put said items into a suitcase, life will be better if you get a bit organised.
If you haven’t discovered packing cells already, the time has come. These clever packing solutions allow you to put different kinds of clothes into different cells, so you’re not digging around in your suitcase, flinging clothes on the floor as you try to figure out where on earth your favourite top has disappeared to.
I love taking the cells out of my bag, putting them into a hotel drawer and then just opening the top. That way everything is there, neatly looking up at you, and with one zip the whole drawer is ready to hop back in your case and move onto the next location. Winning.
If you’re going on a big trip and are looking at taking more than your usual amount of luggage you may also like to check out my story all about the pros and cons of taking two medium checked in bags compared to one large one, complete with some excess baggage maths.
Roll All of Your Clothes
Yes, rolling will save space by expelling the excess air, which means you can fit more into your case.
But there are times when you should roll with it, and times when you should go old school and just neatly fold. A good rule of thumb is to roll those things that don’t usually need ironing, and fold those that do.
If you put those neatly folded items into your trusty packing cell they won’t get all crumpled as you search through your case.
Don’t forget smaller rolled up items can go into your shoes to save space and help them keep their shape. Shoes that are then placed in a nice shoe bag or even a plastic bag to keep everything nice and clean.
Carry On Breaking the Rules
Most of us have been well trained when it comes to the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels we can take on a flight, but there’s a long list of other things that you shouldn’t carry on with you.
Weapons and explosives are rather obvious, but some sporting goods and kitchen utensils are also on the naughty list. If in doubt, head to the Australian Government’s TravelSECURE website and also check the rules for the airport you’ll be flying home from.
Keep in mind some drugs that can be easily purchased in any chemist in Australia are banned in some other countries, so make sure you check the prohibited list before you fly to, or through, an airport.
Things you definitely do want in your carry on include your medications, valuables like your laptop and jewellery, and some toiletries to make the flight more pleasant. It’s amazing how a quick beauty wipe followed by lashings of moisturiser can make a difference in the sky.
An outfit change is also a good idea, just in case your checked baggage takes a little side trip of its own. Most missing bags turn up within a couple of days (last year the average was 1.6 days to be exact) so a fresh set of clothes would help tide you over.
I’m also a huge fan of taking pyjamas on a long haul flight. If you’re lucky enough to be in the pointy end of the plane you may receive some nice designer ones, but even when I’m in economy I take my own. Not only are they super comfortable to wear, I don’t look like I’ve slept in my clothes when I arrive at the other end.
Forget To Check Your Passport
Okay, sure you can do this one if you’re travelling domestically, but if you’re heading for an international terminal you don’t just need to check that you have your passport, you need to make sure it will get you into your destination.
Your passport may be valid, but how long does it have left? Some countries require people to have a minimum of six months left on their passport before they’ll let them in.
How many stamps you have could also be an issue, as some places insist on one or two blank pages in a passport before they’ll add their own immigration stamp.
I now have “Please Leave Blank” post-it pleas on a couple pages in my passport after picking up that tip from a particularly well-travelled friend.
Of course a quick online check on whether you need a visa for the country you’re heading to is also a very good idea. Much better to find that one out well before you get to the airport.
And if you’re about to head off on a trip and have insurance through your bank or credit card, it’s a good idea to read this piece about why your credit card’s travel insurance may not be enough before you jet off.
So there we have it. Five things to avoid when you’re packing for your next adventure. And for the crazy cat people out there we have a bonus round…
Pack with Cats
They pretend they’re being helpful, but they’re just not. Let’s be honest they’re really just psyching you out and working the travelling pet owner guilt so they get more fishy treats. But that’s a story for another day.
Now if I could only get enthusiastic about the whole unpacking thing when I get home. Yeah, I can’t see that one happening in a hurry, but maybe one day….
While we’re talking travel tips, here’s another one you may want to check out: